ROME (10-14-2018) – As an entire Community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist rejoice today in the historic canonization of Pope Paul VI during whose papacy and with his approbation the Community was founded. A representative group of Sisters was present at the canonization ceremony and Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Thousands of people from all over the world gathered under sunny skies to pray and to celebrate Pope Paul VI and six other new saints: Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador; two priests, Francesco Spinelli and Vincenzo Romano; two women religious who founded religious orders, Maria Catherine Kasper and Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus; and Nuncio Sulprizio who died at the age of nineteen in Italy.
The teachings of Pope Paul VI not only guided the founding of the Community but continued to underlie its growth and approach to mission. His encyclical, Populorum progressio (On the Development of Peoples) has inspired the Sisters in their apostolic outreaches to believe in the potential of each individual to become the person God has called each to be, “In God’s plan, every man is born to seek self-fulfillment, for every human life is called to some task by God. At birth a human being possesses certain aptitudes and abilities in germinal form, and these qualities are to be cultivated so that they may bear fruit” (par. 15).
Pope Paul VI spoke clearly in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization), words that ring true with the Sisters in their efforts to be a corporate “wordless witness,” whose very presence speaks to others of hope and faith. Frequently the Community reflects on the challenge of par. 21: “Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good. Let us suppose that, in addition, they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one. Here we have an initial act of evangelization.”
Since the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), the Sisters have promoted its teachings and values, especially the inherent value of human life from conception to natural death. Respect for life has been an underlying theme of numerous seminars, workshops, talks and conferences given and promoted by the Community over the past forty-five years. “Respect for life” encompasses the Community’s primary mission within the Church and to the secular world. In his concluding remarks in Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI emphasizes the law written in the heart of each person, “For man cannot attain that true happiness for which he yearns with all the strength of his spirit, unless he keeps the laws which the Most High God has engraved in his very nature.”
St. Paul VI, pray for us!